Pennsylvania Manufacturers Indemnity Co. v. Cintas Fire Protection and Fire Systems of Springfield v. SimplexGrinnell L.P.
A third-party indemnification claim must adequately allege that the third party possessed exclusive control over the dangerous situation that led to damage. In 1997, the third-party defendant, SimplexGrinnell L.P., installed a fire sprinkler system at the Comfort Suites hotel in Norwich. Comfort Suites hired the defendant, Cintas Fire Protection and Fire Systems of Springfield, to maintain and repair the fire sprinkler system. In June 2009, Cintas introduced water into the system when it performed a flow trip test. In December 2009, Comfort Suites sustained approximately $150,000 in damages when water in the fire sprinkler system allegedly froze, and the pipes burst. On April 22, 2011, Comfort Suites' insurance company, the plaintiff, Pennsylvania Manufacturers Indemnity Co., sued Cintas, alleging it failed to drain the water after the flow trip test, breached the contract and was negligent. On Sept. 29, 2011, Cintas brought an indemnification claim against SimplexGrinnell, because it allegedly installed a low-lying pipe that did not properly drain and permitted water to remain in the fire sprinkler system. SimplexGrinnell moved to dismiss and argued that Cintas failed to file the third-party complaint timely, within three years of Oct. 7, 1997, pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §52-584. The District Court found that the third-party complaint was filed time, pursuant to C.G.S. §52-598a, and that §52-584 did not apply. The District Court granted SimplexGrinnell's motion to dismiss, because Cintas failed to adequately allege that SimplexGrinnell possessed exclusive control of the condition that caused the pipe to burst. SimplexGrinnell has not had contact with the sprinkler system since installation. "[E]ven if the dangerous condition arose from a negligent installation of the pipes performed by SimplexGrinnell," wrote the court, "SimplexGrinnell indisputably did not have exclusive control over the sprinkler system as Cintas had been servicing the sprinkler system . . . nearly a decade." An alternative apportionment clam was not filed timely, within 120 days of the return date of the original complaint, pursuant to C.G.S. §52-102b. The court granted SimplexGrinnell's motion to dismiss.